Learning about Latkes


“I made you latkes!” I announced to B when he came down.

He grumbled what I thought was, “You made me bubkis?” which roughly translated, would mean “you made me shit?” or “You made me nothing?” I narrowed my eyes, shocked.

Luckily this is B, and he doesn’t speak Yiddish and what he actually said was “Can I have a kiss,” he’s just hard to understand first thing in the morning.

It’s Chanukah and I made latkes. That should seem fairly straight forward. But, in fact, I have only one memory of latkes on Chanukah, ok, maybe two, I think my grandmother might have made them for us once, and a family friend once. I tend to think of them as a part of the whole effort to make Jews feel “included” in the whole holiday season by adapting Chanukah to be a parallel to Christmas, with traditional foods, colors, music, etc. Well, it isn’t.

That said, when faced with the task of making breakfast for us this morning and possessing just one egg, I couldn’t think of a better way to stretch than a good dose of potato pancakes. I shredded a Yukon gold with my box grater and sliced a negi (kind of a Japanese scallion) thinly. I drained them of their moisture by wrapping them in paper towels and setting my new dutch oven on top to weigh them down while I heated the pan and added some chicken fat, in my freezer from a previous experiment. You want enough fat that it will come up the side of the latke. These were thin latkes, so that wasn’t alot–maybe a tablespoon in my small pan. I mixed my one egg with the potato and negi, and spooned latkes, one tablespoon at a time, into the pan. Once in the pan, I flattened them and they were about silver dollar sized. They take about a minute or two on each side–you can see the brown crawl up the edges, so the latke will let you know when it is done. Drain them on a rack and salt as soon as they are out. I opened the fridge in search of something to substitute for the traditional sour cream or applesauce. I came up with cream cheese and it worked well. Garnished with a few of the greens of the negi, and a latke is born.


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